When I first came to Mexico to live in 1999 I don’t remember seeing any signs at all of Halloween. The focus was entirely upon the Mexican “El Día de los Muertos” (The Day of the Dead) observances of November first and second. After Y2K it seemed like Halloween began to enter the consciousness of Mexican people…probably through television first and then through marketing as big chains such as Walmart became securely entrenched. It is no big deal really. The Mexicans hold firm to their El Día de los Muertos celebrations and the kids enjoy the trappings of Halloween as well. It makes for an extended holiday. The orange and black colors of Halloween pretty much go hand in hand with the colors of the Día de los Muertos so there is an easy transition from one to the other and the jack-o-lantern fits in nicely.
This past Sunday, the Catholic priests all over Mexico gave a sermon about the dangers of Halloween and yesterday the Catholic Church of Mexico officially attacked Halloween as a pagan abomination. The Church urged parents not to let their children wear Halloween costumes or go trick-or-treating. They suggested instead that the parents teach them the negative things about Halloween and hold costume parties where children can dress up as Biblical characters and give friends a piece of candy while telling them "God loves you." They also said that celebrating Halloween like inviting Satan into your home. Wow! It sounds to me like they are really serious about not liking Halloween. It does seem a bit strange, however, that they should attack Halloween and not El Día de los Muertos as well. The “Los Muertos” tradition dates back 3,000 years. The Aztec culture celebrated a holiday very similar to the present day Día de los Muertos during the whole month of August. When the Spanish Conquistadors landed in what is now Mexico, they noticed the natives practicing this ritual and the Catholic Church by right of conquest forced a change in the ritual date to November first to coincide with the Catholic holidays of All Saints Day and All Souls Day.
I think that the Church can huff and puff all they want but they are not going to stop Halloween. It is starting to become a popular holiday the world over including China. Halloween is called wànshèngjié in China and a pumpkin is called a nánguā. I really think that the Church officials are wasting their time and looking foolish by attacking the inevitable. They should embrace the change and adapt to it. I was raised a Catholic and I do believe as they do and as Saint Paul tells us that “The Devil roams the Earth like a roaring lion seeking those whom he might devour” but I think that it is more likely that he disguises himself as a pedophile priest, a corrupt politician, or a radical conservative religious figure and not as a pumpkin. In any case, Happy Halloween! I guess the worst thing that can happen is that you eat too much candy.